“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward,” Solomon wrote (Psalm 127:3, NAS).

Is that your attitude about children? Okay, let me guess. Maybe you have a few questions about having children. Possibly some fear and feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps you don’t even like children. And just maybe, you aren’t ready to give up all the freedoms the two of you enjoy right now. Am I right?

I must confess that before I married, Psalm 127:3 was not a verse included in my personal memory plan. As a single man I don’t recall even liking children. I didn’t take care of a little tyke or think about the number of children I’d like to have. I had no interest.

But after Barbara and I married, we started having children—one after another. God blessed us with a full house, and as He did, He enlarged our hearts.

And then we understood another truth that Solomon wrote about children: “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:5). I can honestly say that having children is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Once you become involved in the process of loving these precious young souls and connecting your heart to theirs, you realize becoming a parent is a great reward.

Fears about starting a family

Let’s take a look at your situation. You and your spouse are learning to enjoy each other. Your marriage has had ups and downs, but it’s growing. Life is already full of challenges. And you’re not so sure you’re ready to strap on this thing called a child.

Maybe you’re thinking, It’s a scary world out there! Without question, the world into which you will bring a child can be a frightening place. School shootings, diminishing morality (even among Christian youth), and a plethora of media choices are very real dangers. Raising children has never been more challenging.

Or perhaps you’re concerned because your parents’ marriage didn’t work out. Our divorce culture has left more than one scar on this generation’s heart; the fear of a failed marriage is one of these wounds. Many couples wait to have children because they aren’t certain their marriage will go the distance. As adult children from broken homes, they don’t want to bring a child into a family to experience what they did.

You also may feel inadequate to be a parent. You don’t know how parenting works. You spent 16 years or more in school but received little or no preparation for raising the next generation. Where do you start? How do you do it?

Your fears can be overwhelming; paralysis can set in; years can pass. You need to begin now discussing this decision. I offer this important piece of advice: Look at children through the eyes of God, feel about children with the heart of God, and think about children with the mind of God. To do this, you need to get into the Scripture to find out what God says about children.

First, God commands us to have children. In the very beginning, God explained His desires related to children when He commanded Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

Children aren’t optional equipment for a married couple. For those who can have children, the command is clear: “Be fruitful.”

I realize, of course, that many couples who want children are unable to get pregnant; infertility can create a profound sense of loss in a marriage relationship. I urge you, though, if God does not allow you to bear your own children, to consider adoption. Welcoming otherwise unwanted children into your lives is certainly a noble response to Jesus’ comment that when we help one in need, we help Him (Matthew 25:40).

Second, God says children are a blessing: “The fruit of the womb is a reward. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” I’ll avoid a lengthy discussion about the size of your family, but let me encourage you to get your marching orders from God, not the world or the misguided notions of the Christian community. “Two and no more!” seems to be the culture’s cry.

I’m not advocating that all families should be large, or that a small family is wrong. But I believe Christians are becoming unduly worried about overpopulating the world. The world needs Christians to produce godly offspring. If Christians don’t replicate a godly heritage and legacy to carry biblical values and Scripture’s truth to the next generation, others will.

Parents should nurture children in a Christian home. God’s original plan called for the home to be a greenhouse—a nurture center where children grow up to learn character, values, and integrity. Psalm 78 instructs parents to teach their children to know God and to carry that knowledge to the next generation, and through these lines of godly descendants, Satan’s kingdom will be defeated.

Children are divinely appointed “generational messengers” who carry the truth about God and His kingdom to future generations. What a privilege we have in receiving these gifts and passing on the message of Christ’s love and forgiveness.

God highly values children. Jesus was speaking about someone who would lead children astray when He sternly warned, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2).

Finally, children are redemptive. They call us to die to self and to yield to Christ as Master and Lord. Barbara and I have learned that the more children you have, the less selfish you can be. We realized we couldn’t simultaneously raise six children (and do it well) and be selfish.

God uses our children to teach us about His love, His forgiveness, and His grace.

A noble calling

I’d like to address you as though you were my own children—not with a sermon in my hand, but from the very center of my heart. Having children is one of the highest and holiest callings God has ever given us. There’s no sweeter refrain than being called “Daddy” or “Mommy.” There’s no more memorable rhythm than that of a running toddler right before he jumps into bed with you on a Saturday morning. And there’s no nobler mission in all of life than wholeheartedly embracing the privilege of shaping the soul of a boy or girl.

Parenthood is like a season that begins and has no ending. It’s an adventure beyond anything Hollywood could ever conceive, and it’s more fun than ten thousand trips to Disney World. Yes, raising a child is one of life’s most profound gambles. Children aren’t robots. And, yes, they’ll break your heart. But they will also fill it.

I doubt that at the end of your life you could name a single thing that surpasses or even approaches the grand calling of being a parent. It is indeed a glorious mission.

Adapted from Starting Your Marriage Right, Copyright © Dennis and Barbara Rainey, 2000, Thomas Nelson Publishers.